Painting the Fens
Words by Nick Tearle, Fenland Artist

Since 2015 my work as a landscape oil painter has focused soley on the flatlands of Lincolnshire and Cambridgshire known as the Fens. It’s the landscape of my youth and holds a special place in my heart. In some way I have always known that painting the Fens is what I’m meant to do.

Fenland painting - Rain on Morton Fen by Nick Tearle
Fenland painting – Rain on Morton Fen by Nick Tearle
Fenland painting - Fenland Sunset by Nick Tearle
Fenland painting – Fenland Sunset by Nick Tearle

Having returned after a decade living in other parts of the country and other parts of the world. I was studying, travelling and growing up. Coming home to the family cottage on King Street in the village of West Deeping, I was ready to start a new venture on familiar ground. I’m pleased to say it’s been a success. I’ve been making fenland paintings ever since.

Fenland painting - Crowland Abbey from Cloot Drove by Nick Tearle
Fenland painting – Crowland Abbey from Cloot Drove by Nick Tearle

I had already decided that it would be a good opportunity to go full time as a painter, creating fenland art would help me to gain a a local audience to market my work to, I knew that my subject had to be the Fenland landscape.

Fenland painting - Fenland Field by Nick Tearle
Fenland painting – Fenland Field by Nick Tearle

All landscapes are unique, but this one is uniquely mine. The fenland in which I rode my bike to and from the town as a youngster was to be my home again and this time it would provide me with a way to become a self-made man.

Fenland painting - Sunrise Walk by Nick Tearle
Fenland painting – Sunrise Walk by Nick Tearle

You don’t need a reason to want to paint the landscape; looking out into the vista is an immediate-felt experience that blasts through our otherwise conceptual lives of whim and worry.

Fenland painting - Storm Clouds over March by Nick Tearle
Fenland painting – Storm Clouds over March by Nick Tearle

As a younger man, I believed I needed to make art that said something, whether it be political, ethical or philosophical. The slightly more refined (but only slightly) chap that came back was pleased to find that painting your local landscape, for me landscape of the Fens, lets the land and its people do the talking.

Fenland painting - November on Kings Delph Drove by Nick Tearle
Fenland painting – November on Kings Delph Drove by Nick Tearle

I started by making a few Cambridgeshire landscape paintings and Lincolnshire landscape paintings in oils and setting up my online representation at www.nicktearle.net. Then came the ‘Artisans on Friday’ market stall in Red Lion Square of Stamford. The paintings instantly resonated with passers-by and soon enough I had sold a couple.

Fenland painting - Fenland Sky over Etton by Nick Tearle
Fenland painting – Fenland Sky over Etton by Nick Tearle

The fenland landscape is captivating, though often given scant regard. For the landscape painter, however, who wants to capture its rural scenes, dramatic skies and seasonal colour shifts there are many a hidden gem. A fleeting moment when ten storey clouds hang weightlessly in the cerulean sky over the rapeseed, or the frost of a winter morning that has turned the Fen palette bleak grey.

Fenland painting - Frosty Morning on Thorney Dyke by Nick Tearle
Fenland painting – Frosty Morning on Thorney Dyke by Nick Tearle

Its isolated farm houses standing high out of shrunken peat echo the souls of Fen people living precariously below the water line. This kind of subtext or narrative adds to the drama of the paintings and has served as inspiration for writers such as Jon McGregor and Graham Swift.

Fenland painting - Storm Clouds over Langtoft Fen by Nick Tearle
Fenland painting – Storm Clouds over Langtoft Fen by Nick Tearle

I have had a string of solo exhibitions and group shows, sold over sixty original paintings, and also set up Fenland Frames. In 2017 I won the Andrew Howarth Award for my painting ‘Crowland Abbey from Cloot Drove’ and I was selected as an exhibiting member of the Lincolnshire Artists Society. Last year, I published a book in collaboration with Becky Owen-Fischer (Poet & Playwright), which we launched at a unique event at John Clare Cottage.

Fenland painting - Moon Rise by Nick Tearle
Fenland painting – Moon Rise by Nick Tearle

Art is the expression of our souls; sharing our souls helps us connect and relate better to one another and to our environment.

Nick Tearle, Fenland Artist